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Week 9 Schedule Analysis

by | Rotowire.com
  •  

It doesn't happen often, but every team in the league will play at least three tilts this week with busy days flip-flopping from Tuesday's and Thursday to Monday's, Wednesday's and of course the weekend days. So it's going to take quite a bit to wade through all the details and get to some of these trends, let's get started.

NHL schedule

(*All b2b (back-to-back) occurrences are in bold)

Four Aces

This week's Four Aces are loaded with not only team's playing on b2b nights, but a special sub-section of teams with a broader idea.

At the rate Boston (PIT, at DET, NYR, CLS) is yielding goals, their schedule is favorable, especially against teams who have had a hard time finding the back of the net consistently. Although some on staff think Zdeno Chara's big body is winding down and settling in to this underwhelming offensive production, we think he's still got something in the tank. Hang in there Chara owners - he got a goal Saturday. Adam McQuaid could be nearing a return of his own.

Columbus (at TOR, NAS, EDM, at BOS) has an opportunity to turn things around in a busy week against three teams going through the very same growing pains and close it all out against the Bruins in Beantown. Matt Calvert scored in his first game back to the lineup and Nikita Nikitin is contributing at the moment.

Don't look now, but Edmonton (CHI, at NAS, at CLS, at DAL), the NHL's biggest disappointment this season, has won three in a row, albeit against the Flames, Jackets and Panthers. But that includes a seven-goal outburst and (14 shot) shutout by Devyn Dubnyk. As usual, any sign of true competition seems to get the Saskatchewan goalie moving. Regardless, the Oilers schedule gets a bit tougher this week, including a rematch with a likely ticked-off Jackets bunch. We see lots of penalties in that one.

While Nashville (PHX, at CLS, EDM, PHI) is not currently dead last in GF as a team, they just got beat 2-0 by a Rangers team that is tied for dead last. Of course this is nothing new. Preds fans have become accustomed to these facts. Marek Mazanec has allowed just six goals in his last four starts. Although neither Mike Smith nor Sergei Bobrovsky were worth a damn this weekend, you should expect bounce-back efforts. So, perhaps you could see a fang in the Nashville offense against the Oilers and Flyers' netminders. But it will likely need to so without Patric Hornqvist.

Philadelphia (at FLA, at TB, WPG, at NAS) plays three of four away from home, including an early week Florida swing, the Jets at home and off to Nashville. Claude Giroux and Matt Read owners are finally enjoying a slide in the right direction and Steve Mason is reaping the benefits.

Pittsburgh (at BOS, TOR, at TB, at FLA) looked like they were done treading water with a few Metro division wins last week, but a 3-2 loss at the hands of the surging Canadiens tells us they're still a sleeping giant. Nonetheless, James Neal is heating up and after Monday's tilt at the TD Bank Garden, they're very likely to win out the week in a big way. Beau Bennett owners in deeper leagues are still dealing with early career speed bumps. That's music to the ears of Matt D'Agostini.

After hosting the Kings, Vancouver (LA, at OTT, at NYR, at CAR) heads out on the road. A falter could happen in Ottawa as the Canucks have had their sights set on Saturday's game since this summer's "coaching trade" with the Rangers. Alexander Edler awoke from his slumber on Friday and then back to sleep on Saturday.

4x4

In 4x4 we break down the remaining five teams in the league not only playing four games this week, but eight games over the next two weeks. Be sure to note the home-and-home as well as long miles traveled on some of the b2b occurrences.

Chicago (at EDM, at CAL, at DAL, at PHX) is one of the five busiest teams with eight games over the next two weeks, starting with four games on the road this week. Either way, it's not likely Corey Crawford will continue his string of consecutive starts. Antti Raanta anyone? Michal Handzus was activated this weekend and will be deployed at some point during the road trip.

The goalie carousel continues for Minnesota (at STL, PHX, COL, at COL), who has one of the most difficult schedules this week. Niklas Backstrom returned from the IR, victorious no less, but league-leader Josh Harding is considered day-to-day. If Harding's injury is serious, Darcy Kuemper, who really dug a path between Minnesota and Des Moines (AHL) last week, may be fed to the wolves (Avalanche).

After ending a fairly successful trip out west with a 2-1 loss to San Jose, we're not sure what to think of New Jersey's (WPG, CAR, at CAR, BUF) week. Despite the three teams' underwhelming combined record of 23-39-10, the Devils are still looking for an offensive juggernaut to step up. While the Devils are hoping that will be summer offseason signing and river rivalry import Ryane Clowe, he's just now resumed skating. After Martin Brodeur's run in with Brent Burns on Saturday, Cory Schneider figures to get almost all of these starts, but four? A quick glance of Albany's (AHL) team stats suggests Keith Kinkaid could get the call. Kinkaid (7-2-1, 1.97) has certainly been better than Scott Wedgewood (4-4, 2.66).

As you can plainly see, it won't be easy for a slumping Rangers (at TB, at FLA, at BOS, VAN) offense whose only game at home will be the aforementioned and long-awaited matchup of former head coaches. Backup Cam Talbot, who enjoyed his second straight shutout on Saturday versus the Preds, is less likely to enjoy the Bruins as Henrik Lundqvist will likely draw the big grudge match at MSG on Saturday.

Toronto (CLS, at PIT, at BUF, at MTL) has an interesting semi-road trip after hosting the Blue Jackets on Monday. Though all three games will be played in white jerseys, all three are considered regional rivals, so you could see a tough Leafs team this week. Tyler Bozak (hamstring) nearing a return? David Clarkson has two goals in his last three affairs.

Back-To-Back Jacks

In the interest of saving time, with so many teams (21) playing on back-to-back nights, if you DON'T see your back-up goalie's team in Back-to-Back Jacks this week you'll likely not need his services as the number one goalie in town should get three starts.

Despite not being far removed from injury, we'll be interested to see if Carolina (at NJ, NJ, VAN) goes with Cam Ward the whole way as the Canes' schedule is spread evenly. Also, it appears Andrej Sekera is making waves?

It's not so clean in Dallas (ANH, CHI, EDM) as Kari Lehtonen was pulled in Saturday night's contest with St. Louis. Although Lehtonen is due for a slump (or injury), it's St. Louis and not many goalies are exempt from a beating, much less against the Blues offense. We were hesitant to commit to Ray Whitney returning last week, but we're almost positive he'll return to a line with Dustin Jeffrey and Shawn Horcoff this week. With that being said, we like the upside for Jeffrey.

Detroit's (BOS, at NYI, at OTT) Daniel Alfredsson, who had missed the last five games with a pulled groin, is due to return to action Sunday. Todd Bertuzzi's checkered career has truly hit a crossroad. He's hurting again and we're not talking about his goose eggs and minus-8 rating over the last six games. The Red Wings have bigger problems as Pavel Datsyuk finished Saturday's game, but could be undergoing some concussion tests this week.

Florida (PHI, NYR, PIT) really has no other options than Tim Thomas, so this is good news for Thomas owners. It's a week of three different career tales for Thomas as he's posted a hot career record (13-4-2) against the Flyers, poor against the Rangers (5-10-3) and modest (8-6-4) against the Pens. Scott Gomez returned on Friday for those desperate top-six assists fiends.

After winning four straight and six of their first eight to start the month, Los Angeles (at VAN, at SJ, CAL) has lost two consecutive games in OT. They'll look to end the month strong with three Pacific division games. Hopefully Ben Scrivens remains focused, as otherwise this month could end as poorly.

Phoenix (at NAS, at MIN, CHI) spends the week battling hockey's strongest division, the Central. Not good news for a team that could be without Martin Hanzal, although the Preds don't scare the Coyotes. No matter who's in goal for Minny and Chicago it's likely to be a tough matchup. Oliver Ekman-Larsson missed practice on Friday, but still managed an assist against Anaheim on Saturday. Rob Klinkhammer has come back down to earth the past three games and Zbynek Michalek's stay on the IR is still undetermined.

Winners of three in a row, St. Louis (MIN, at COL, at SJ) is like a machine, boasting a 16-3-3 record. The rich get richer as Patrik Berglund returned in Saturday's 6-1 win over Dallas to the tune of an assist.

Tampa Bay (NYR, PHI, PIT) hosts three Metro division opponents. After starting the month 5-0, Ben Bishop was outright pitiful on the team's most recent West Coast trip. But Bishop tightened things up against a tough Ducks team to end the trip on Friday night. Regardless of where Steve Stamkos is at for his rehab, how far the Lightning (five of their next 6 from home) go this week and all season depends on this kid fulfilling expectations.J.T. Brown is seeing more power play time and it's impacting his stat lines. We're picking him up in our deeper leagues.

The pride of Manitoba travels east as Winnipeg (at NJ, at NYI, at PHI) embarks on a six game road trip. But the Jets have a very winnable schedule, or do they? Your call. One thing we do know, if any of these games go to a shootout, clearly Ondrej Pavelec (5-2) is a pretty good bet.

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Player News
Ryan Malone
Malone Finds Net in Rangers' Loss
Ryan Malone, LW, NYR
9/23/2014
News: Ryan Malone netted a first period powerplay goal in Sunday's preseason loss to the Devils.
Analysis: Ryan Malone, who is on a long list of players vying for a few open spots played on the team's fourth line with Dominic Moore and Jesper Fast. If the five time 20-goal is going to stick around for the regular season he'll have to consistently chip in offensively.

Martin St. Louis
St. Louis Has Quiet Start to Season
Martin St. Louis, RW, NYR
9/23/2014
News: Martin St. Louis had three shots on goal in just over 16-minutes of ice time on Sunday against New Jersey.
Analysis: The 39-year-old winger played on the team's second unit alongside Carl Hagelin and Derick Brassard. While he certainly provided some punch in the team's run to the Stanley Cup last spring, a new season brings new expectations. Depending on varying results from Rick Nash and left-winger Mats Zuccarello, owners should not dismiss the possibility of Martin St. Louis seeing time on the team's third line if he struggles out of the gate.

J.T. Miller
Miller Nabs Two Assists in Rangers' Loss
J.T. Miller, C, NYR
9/23/2014
News: J.T. Miller had a pair of assists in Sunday's preseason loss to New Jersey.
Analysis: It's certainly a nice start considering the former first round pick has just 12 points in 60 career games, but let's not get too ahead of ourselves. Most importantly, his two-way play from the center position looked sharp. J.T. Miller logged just under 15-minutes of ice time with third liners Lee Stempniak and Mats Zuccarello. Because the 20-year-old has considerable upside he could become the occasional sleeper pick if he continues at this clip.

Jesper Fast
Fast Scores From Rangers' Fourth Line
Jesper Fast, RW, NYR
9/23/2014
News: Jesper Fast had a game-tying goal in the third period of Sunday's preseason loss to New Jersey.
Analysis: The 22-year-old Swedish winger played on the team's fourth line with Dominic Moore and newcomer Tanner Glass. Despite posting a donut in 11 regular season games last year, Jesper Fast managed an assist in the team's cup run and fits head coach Alain Vigneault's customary blueprints. He's far from a lock to make the team out of camp, but scoring points never hurt anyone.

Jason Dickinson
Dickinson Gets Game-Winner For Dallas
Jason Dickinson, C, DAL
9/23/2014
News: Jason Dickinson scored the game-winning goal in Dallas' preseason opener against St. Louis on Monday.
Analysis: Jason Dickinson, the Stars 2013 first round pick, had a rough game up until the third period when he started to find his game centering the fourth line. Dickinson seems unlikely to be on the opening night roster, but he started to show why the Stars drafted him so high.

Brent Burns
SJ's Burns Solid In Return To Blue Line
Brent Burns, D, SJ
9/23/2014
News: Brent Burns had a goal, three shots, a hit, four blocked shots, and 26:39 of playing time in one of the Sharks' split-squad preseason games against the Canucks on Tuesday.
Analysis: Brent Burns did it all and showed why he'll be a highly sought after d-man in fantasy this season. He's scoring, playing defense, and likely to log a ton of minutes. Preseason games are a little meaningless and it's dangerous to take too much from them, but Burns certainly showed why he's one of the most exciting defensemen in fantasy this season.

Taylor Fedun
Sharks' Fedun Fighting For Roster Spot
Taylor Fedun, D, SJ
9/23/2014
News: Taylor Fedun took a team-leading six shots in one of Tuesday's split-squad preseason matches between the Sharks and Canucks.
Analysis: Taylor Fedun is battling for a roster spot. He played a solid 18:52, took a penalty, and was getting involved offensively. He's starting to make the case for himself, but even if he makes the roster, he will likely have limited fantasy value.

Alex Stalock
Stalock Takes Preseason Loss For Sharks
Alex Stalock, G, SJ
9/23/2014
News: Alex Stalock started one of the two games on Tuesday as the Sharks played a split-squad preseason match with Vancouver. He stopped 15 of 18 shots in a 4-2 loss.
Analysis: This game meant nothing and doesn't really tip the team's hand on whether it'll be Alex Stalock or Antti Niemi in net on opening night. Subsequent nights when the team can't start Stalock and Niemi might give us a better idea of who will be the starter.

Logan Couture
Sharks Take Couture Out Of Preseason Game
Logan Couture, C, SJ
9/23/2014
News: Logan Couture took a big hip check during San Jose's split squad matches against Vancouver during the second period. He was held out of the third period for precautionary reasons, according to CSN's Kevin Kurz.
Analysis: There's no reason not to trust coach Todd McLellan's assertion that Logan Couture's removal from the game was precautionary. This game meant nothing and there's no reason to risk anything with a star like Couture. Expect him to be fine.

Jordan Staal
Canes' Staal Suffers Broken Leg, Out Indefinitely
Jordan Staal, C, CAR
9/23/2014
News: Jordan Staal sustained a broken bone in the lower part of his right leg during Tuesday's exhibition at Buffalo, Stephen Whyno of the Canadian Press reports.
Analysis: A timetable has not been released regarding Jordan Staal's return to the ice, but it would seem likely that he'll miss significant time. He needed crutches to move around after Tuesday's preseason contest, and fantasy owners will want to monitor his status in the coming days for a clearer picture regarding how much time he'll miss.

 
 
 
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